Publishing Your Book: A Few Tips To Keep You Sane
Updated: Feb 17
Publishing your book can be overwhelming. Should you have print or just eBook or both? Should you list everywhere or just on one retailer? Which retailers should you not list with?
These and so many more questions can make a new author's head spin.
In this post I break down a few of these concerns and hopefully I make your decisions a little easier. I shared this information in a post on Reddit but thought I would make a blog post out of it and share it with you. Hopefully, this will help answer some publishing questions you may have.
FIRST…THIS WILL NOT COVER ISBNs or COPYRIGHT. This post is strictly about where to publish and the nitty gritty concerning those decisions.
Before we go any further, you may need to think about wide or exclusive for publishing. Exclusive usually means you publish on Amazon only. Wide means you publish everywhere.
This is where you need to decide which will work for you. These are two different approaches to publishing, and each will require a different way of marketing.
If you choose to list your books in KU, I highly suggest you stay in for a minimum of 3 cycles (9 months) preferable a year. If you go in and out of KU, you will alienate both KU and wide readers. Pick a lane and stay with it. Either of these approaches will take TIME to build your audience. By switching between KU and wide, you make it harder to gain a loyal audience.
KU (Kindle Unlimited – EBOOKS ONLY)
This is a 90-day commitment to Amazon in which you agree you will not list your eBook with any other retailer. If you place your books into KU, and then list them on any other site for sale, including your website, Wattpad, or any other outlet, Amazon will close your account and may ban you from publishing with them again. YES, they have done this.
Remember KU is only for eBooks. You can list your print book anywhere.
The key to going wide is knowing when to list directly with a retailer and when to use an aggregate. In general, listing directly with a retailer will most often benefit you more. However, there are a few exceptions, which are listed below. (More on Aggregates below)
List direct with:
Amazon: List your eBook and print book. (Print without expanded distribution. More on this below.) You can upload your windows docx or many other formats to list your eBook. You will need to upload a PDF for print.
Kobo:in-house You can only get the in-house promotions when you list directly with Kobo. Once you have uploaded your eBook, you must email them and ask for the promotions tab. You will need to upload an epub.
You can choose to list your book in the Kobo Plus subscription. This is like KU but there is no exclusivity clause. The way they calculate your payment for books read is extremely confusing. I would suggest you do some research and see if it is a good fit for you.
Do not use Kobo to reach Overdrive. There are a lot of changes on the horizon with Kobo and using them to reach Overdrive. It seems that it is easier and more profitable to use another aggregate to get to Overdrive. (Overdrive Covered below)
Barnes and Noble Press: It is best to list your books directly with BN. Again, the only way to get in-house promotions is to list your eBook directly. And once your book is up, you must request the promotions tab. It will take some time to get it. But it is worth it in the end. Listing with BN will take some effort. You may have to jump through a few hoops and send a few emails. But it is worth it in the end. You will need to upload an epub. (Next to Amazon, BN has been my next best-selling platform.)
Google Play: Google Play gets a bad rap. But listing with GP is very easy to do. It may require you to again jump through some hoops, but you can reach a large audience and there are some great ways to maximize your listing without spending money on advertising. Setting up your GP Partners account may cause some stress, but just breathe. You’ll get through it. You will need to upload an epub.
DON’T GO DIRECT WITH:
Apple: Apple doesn’t have a dedicated publishing team. Unless you are a big publisher, you will not get any special considerations and the process to list your book on Apple is extremely frustrating. Their customer service is wonderful. But the process of listing the book is not easy. Not only that, keeping your real name hidden and only listing your pen name takes specific steps, and those steps are complicated. Publishing to Apple without a MAC book is nightmare. So, if you are a windows user, keep this in mind.
Suggestion: Use Draft2Digital or Smashwords to reach Apple. Both have a good working relationship with Apple, and both offer promotional opportunities with the retailer.
Overdrive and other libraries: Use D2D or Smashwords. Both offer promos for Overdrive. At this time, you must use an aggregate to get into libraries. (D2D, Smashwords, PublishDrive, or Ingram Spark)
D2D will reach some library systems that Smashwords will not. You can use both at the same time.
You can use an aggregate to get to all the retailers listed above and then some. However, I highly suggest never using an aggregate to get to Amazon. You can use multiple aggregates at the same time. Some will reach certain retailers while others won’t. By using multiple aggregates, you can maximize your distribution.
D2D and Smashwords:
D2D is very simple to use. They have a large-scale reach. However, there are some places they don’t distribute to, so I recommend using Smashwords for that. I personally use D2D and then Smashwords for where D2D doesn’t reach. You can switch this and use Smashwords and then D2D. You must upload an Epub. You can use their formatting and make your life easier. No cost. D2D has a print service. Research it and see if it will work for you.
SMASHWORDS: Smashwords can get your book to the same places D2D can and others that they don’t reach. If you are going to list with Smashwords, UPLOAD A FORMATED EPUB AND MOBI AND SAVE YOURSELF THE HEADACHE. If you upload a word doc (NOT DOCX) you will have trouble getting it through the meatgrinder. But using a formatted epub or mobi file will be much easier.
Both D2D and Smashwords each take 10% of your royalties on the back end.
PUBLISHDRIVE: PublishDrive requires a monthly payment to publish your books. You get more royalty, but it will cost more each month. There is an App sumo coupon running around if you want to try it. I would be very cautious and read the fine print. I don’t use them. I can’t give you any advice. I suggest researching them.
STREETLIB: this is an Italian company, great to work with and very reputable. I use them for every place I am not direct with, and where D2D or Smashwords don't reach. You can choose the stores you wish for your book to go to. I use Streetlib to get to a lot of venues overseas. They recently updated their website, and it is super easy to get your books up. I only use them for eBooks. They take a 10% fee on the backend of the sale.
NEVER USE AN AGGREGATE TO GET TO AMAZON. AMAZON DOESN’T PLAY NICE WITH BOOKS THAT COME FROM PLACE ELSE. (EBOOK OR PRINT)
When possible, always go direct.
Now let’s talk print:
Amazon Print: You should always list your print book directly with Amazon. I highly recommend you do not click expanded distribution.
Ingram Spark: Use Ingram Spark for all other print distribution. It does cost you each time you upload a new book or make changes to a file (internal or cover). I suggest two things: either join ALLi you get 5 codes per month to use on Ingram Spark, alleviating the cost to upload your book. Or make sure your book is completely error free, list it, and don’t change it.
You do not get to choose where your book is distributed through IS. You cannot choose any retailers. Once up in their system, it goes everywhere.
If you list your book with Amazon, Amazon will suppress the IS book when IS sends it to them. If you list your print book with BN, BN will suppress the listing from IS. This keeps there from being double listings of your books.
Cautionary advice: If you use your own ISBNS, you need to make a few choices when it comes to print.
I suggested you NOT click expanded distribution on Amazon. Well, here’s why. When you list your print book on Amazon, and you do not click expanded distribution, and YOU ARE USING YOUR OWN ISBN, your book stays in the Amazon world. Your ISBN is not listed as IN USE. This is because it isn’t going out past the walls of the Zon.
If you choose to use Ingram Spark to pick up every other retailer and bookstore for your print book, you must have an ISBN that hasn’t been used before. Or use one of theirs. By not picking expanded destruction on the Zon, you can now use your print ISBN with no worries. If you chose expanded distribution, you would need to request an ISBN transfer to use it on IS. This will release the ISBN and allow you to publish on IS. Your book on Amazon will be taken out of expanded distribution.
Most retailers will not buy print books from Amazon, because Amazon will not let you discount the books to the brick-and-mortar stores, nor do they allow for returns. If you want your print book to be in physical bookstores, list your books on IS first, or do not pick expanded distribution on Amazon. To have your books in brick-and-mortar stores via IS…. you must choose returns allowed and 55% discounts.
Let’s talk Barnes and Noble for print: If you are going to list your eBooks directly on Barnes and Noble, you should consider listing your print books direct as well. You can just use their free ISBN for print (or both) if you choose to. But if you have bought your own ISBNs, you have to make a choice. Either IS or BN for the ISBN listing.
BN is only a US based market; however, they do have their own POD. Ingram Spark will get your books to more retailers. I suggest burning your ISBN on IS and use the free ISBN from BN. If you choose to list only with Ingram Spark, your print book will be listed on Barnes and Noble. It is not mandatory that you list your print books directly on BN.
DO NOT USE INGRAM SPARK FOR EBOOKS. IS is not a good way to distribute eBooks as you have no control over where your eBook goes. While some will suppress a multiple eBook listing, most will not. You will end up with duplicate books on one site. That is not good for sales. Getting your books removed from IS eBook distribution is a nightmare.
Scribd: I have chosen to not list my books on Scribd. I can’t tell you what to do. I would research them and see if you feel comfortable listing your books there. When I did list my books there, I used D2D to reach them. Here is a post on Writer Beware that explains a few things going on with the company. Other authors are happy with Scribd. They may be a good fit for you.
I have only covered the major outlets. There are places like Dream, Radish, KISS, and other subscription-based retailers. Some you can use an aggregate to reach, some will require you to sign a contract for distribution. Read things carefully.
Whether you choose to go wide or exclusive on Amazon, you still need to market your book, and each of these will require different marketing strategies. It is not about ease of publication, or which is cheaper. Neither choice is right or wrong. It’s what will work for you and your book.